The news that the suicide bomber who killed seven Central Intelligence Agency employees in Afghanistan last week was a Jordanian double-agent who swore allegiance to al Qaeda is another reminder of just how foolish it is to underestimate al Qaeda.
It also raises the troubling question of just how CIA operatives will, going forward, ever be able to fully reassure themselves that someone they're recruiting to infiltrate al Qaeda won't be like the Jordanian suicide bomber, masking his true intent until it's too late.
NPR's Tom Gjelten reported for the network's newscast:
Al Jazeera, the Arabic language Television network, first identified the suicide bomber as Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi. The network says al Balawi was sent to Afghanistan by Jordanian intelligence to help the CIA and US forces track down Ayman al Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's number two. He reportedly worked with US and Jordanian intelligence officials for several months, but in fact was a double agent loyal to Al Qaeda. The New York Times and Washington Post are reporting that al Balawi's so-called handler at the US base, a senior Jordanian intelligence official by the name of Sharif Ali bin Zeid, was also killed in last week's attack. Bin Zeid's body was flown back to Jordan over the weekend, and met personally by King Abdullah. The Jordanian government said only that Bin Zeid was killed while doing quote humanitarian work unquote in Afghanistan.